When Lobbying Intersects with Managing

Oct 18, 2023

Tim Ward

by Timothy R. Ward

As president of Michigan Legislative Consultants, Tim loves the challenge of driving change in public policy.

As President of MLC, my role is full of variety. On any given day, I might be advocating for clients, coaching team members, hiring new team members, or running the firm’s business operations, just to name a few. All of those aspects have one goal in common, serving the best interests of our clients. Each involves conducting a strategic evaluation, with many layers to be examined when done properly, which is the overarching key function for me.

Here’s a peek into what I might be tackling on any given day;

Winning

Years ago, the state was contemplating a new tax scheme. One of our clients was on the block to pay $50M in taxes annually.  A competitor who supported the scheme would pay taxes at a rate of 80% less, giving it a pricing advantage in the market. Due to unique, if not strange, circumstances, the issue resulted in the only public negotiation session of my career. At 3 a.m. in a packed House Appropriation Committee room. Five hours later, after the negotiations with the lead legislators and our opponents had concluded, I was informed our client was pulled out of the tax scheme. This sure beat the all-nighter I pulled in college to complete a 400-level political theory term paper!

Sharing Insights with a Client

Advising a client on how something will occur or why it happened a certain way, is an important and satisfying part of the job. For those who did not make government and politics their profession, and either observe it from a distance or periodically intersect with it, how policy decisions are made often does not make sense. Being able to explain to them the dynamics and nuances of why something happened is key because the more a client understands the why, the more they can appreciate the process and outcomes.

Lobbying a Curious Legislator

A great day of lobbying is winning for a client. But most days do not bring conclusions, they are about the process of building towards a conclusion. Lobbying a legislator who asks a lot of questions, either because they have a knowledge base or are inquisitive, is my favorite kind of meeting. I feel energized being challenged, having to think on my feet, and possibly explaining a client’s position with new words to better connect with a legislator’s experience and background.

Hiring and Helping Team Members

As the second longest-serving member of team MLC, I’ve had the pleasure of hiring, or signing off on hiring, all but one person. (Ann joined the team over 10 years before me but I like to think I would have been smart enough to hire her, too!) Hiring someone is based on a vision of the firm’s future and a vision of their future, the two interwoven, building towards success for our clients.

It’s an exciting day welcoming a new member to the team, but so too is helping them think through a situation or problem solve. It creates a different type of satisfaction. My hope for each employee is an abundance of success for them individually because it translates into success for our clients.

Many days as a lobbyist can be long and tiring. But I often look at the jobs that others have and think to myself, “I’ll take my worst day over their best day”.

Michigan Legislative Consultants is a bipartisan lobbying firm based in Lansing, Michigan. Our team of lobbyists and procurement specialists provide a wide range of services for some of the most respected companies in America. For more on MLC, visit www.mlcmi.com or connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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